At least 2.2 billion people struggle with vision impairment around the world. For about half of them, vision impairment was preventable or needs to be addressed with treatment like glasses. But they don’t have access to vision care or can’t afford glasses.
Meanwhile, millions of glasses get tossed out every year and commonly end up in junk drawers or landfills.
You can help people in need by donating your old eyeglasses when you no longer need them. After all, as your eyesight changes over time, you will likely need new glasses.
5 Ways to Donate Old Eyeglasses
Here are five ways to donate eyeglasses.
1. Donate to an Online Organization
You can donate prescription glasses to an online organization.
Warby Parker is a well-known glasses brand. It also accepts donations. Over 10 million glasses have been distributed through Warby Parker’s Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program.
Warby Parker has sent glasses to people in more than 50 countries, from Mexico to Zimbabwe and Bangladesh to Sri Lanka.
You can support Warby Parker’s initiative by buying a pair of glasses through the program. You can also send financial support to its partners, including VisionSpring. VisionSpring is a global social enterprise that sells affordable eyeglasses to people who earn less than $4 per day.
The Lions Club
The Lions Club is a service organization with over a million members worldwide. Lions Recycle for Sight is one of their missions which helps people access both eyecare and eyewear.
The Lions Club accepts donations for all glasses, including prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses, and reading glasses. However, in the United States, the organization is not allowed to distribute prescription glasses.
There are 12 Lions Club eyeglass recycling centers. You can mail your glasses to any of these Lions Club locations or drop them off in person.
You can also support the organization by donating to it online. You can choose to donate as a one-time gift or on a recurring basis.
2. Donate at an In-Store Location
You can also donate used glasses to an in-store location.
Walmart’s Vision Center accepts eyeglass donations. It partners with the Lions Club to collect donations.
Look for the blue and white Lions Club donation box at your local Walmart. You can also ask someone working at your local Walmart about how to drop off donations.
Costco Optical also accepts old glasses. Costco only accepts gently used glasses. The store may not take eyeglasses with broken frames or missing lenses.
Look for donation boxes at its optical centers.
Sam’s Club Optical Center is another place to drop off glasses. Sam's Club works through the Walmart Foundation to coordinate donations.
Pearle Vision has locations all around the United States that accept used glasses. Look for a store near you to drop off your old glasses.
3. Donate to a Non-Profit Organization
Many non-profit organizations take used prescription glasses.
SEE International is a non-profit founded in 1974 to help the world gain access to eye care. Since the organization’s beginning, SEE has helped restore sight to over 600,000 people around the world.
Vosh is a non-profit organization that aims to provide vision and eye health to people worldwide. It does so by supporting sustainable eye clinics, optometry schools, and optometric educators in corners of the globe that don’t have access to sufficient eye care.
ReSpectacle is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that “uses the power of the Internet” to distribute used eyewear to people in need. ReSpectacle focuses on helping underserved communities.
OneSight is on a mission to fix “uncorrected poor vision.” Uncorrected poor vision affects one in three people. Most of those people (90 percent) live in developing communities with limited access to care.
RestoringVision is an organization with a network of 2,500 NGOs and government agencies, plus corporate partners and foundation donors. Together, RestoringVision has been able to help restore vision for more than 20 million people in over 144 countries.
4. Donate to a Thrift Store
Some thrift stores also accept prescription eyeglasses donations. If you have a local consignment shop, walk in and ask the store clerk if the store accepts donations. If they do, you can ask if you can donate glasses.
Not all thrift stores will accept eyeglass donations. Ensure the store will take your old glasses before leaving them with a box of old clothes or other items.
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is one non-profit thrift store that accepts eyeglass donations. There are locations all across the United States. It also accepts gently used clothes and appliances, among other items.
Goodwill is another organization that provides clothes, appliances, and even glasses at discounted prices to shoppers. It also offers free career counseling, skills training, and resume services for job hunters.
You can donate your clothes and glasses at any location across the country.
5. Other Ways to Get Rid of Old Eyeglasses
Here are some other ways to donate used eyeglasses.
Donate to a friend or family member
First, ask your family and friends if anyone needs a pair of glasses. Someone you know may be able to use your old glasses before you give them away to someone else.
Offer your glasses on a social network
If you have social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram, you can share a post advertising the pair of glasses. Let your followers know you are donating your old glasses to someone in need.
You can even ask your Facebook friends or Instagram followers to share your post with their friends and followers. Doing so can help you reach even more people needing a new pair of glasses.
Reach out to your neighbors.
You never know who in your neighborhood might need eyeglasses. Spread the word to your neighbors to find out if they know anyone who could use a pair of gently used glasses.
Eyewear donations can help people worldwide who don’t have access to care or can’t afford eyeglasses.
There are many ways to make eyeglass donations. Reach out to local organizations near you to find out if they accept eyeglasses donations. Or contact one of the above stores, organizations, or charities.
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